FAIRMONT — There were nerves for Fairmont starter Tyler Musselwhite on the mound in the late innings against Greene Central on Saturday.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I might throw a perfect game or no-hitter,” he said of what he was thinking late in the game.
The senior right-hander fought back in the count several times as the nerves caused the occasional pitch to sail high of the strike zone, but he battled through and tossed a no-hitter in the Golden Tornadoes’ 8-0 win at home in the second round of the NCHSAA 2A state baseball playoffs.
“It was nerve-wracking at first because it’s the playoffs so you have to come compete,” Musselwhite said. “I know I got down on a few counts and I battled back and did what I had to do.”
“He set the tone for us because he’s been hurt — had some back problems — and hadn’t thrown very much in the last couple weeks,” said Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke.
Musselwhite struck out 11 batters in seven innings, but coming into the game he wasn’t planned to throw past the fifth inning.
“We were hoping to get three or four innings out of him and then we were going to go to Randy (Floyd),” Thorndyke said. “We started to make the change in the fifth and then we saw he had a no-hitter going… So as soon as he gives up that first hit we were going to make the change, but he never gave that hit up.”
The no-hitter was the first one he tossed in high school, and it came in a big spot to set up a second straight trip to the third round. Fairmont hosts No. 11 North Brunswick on Tuesday.
No. 3 Fairmont gave its pitcher run support early by taking advantage on several errors committed by No. 19 Greene Central.
“We knew they were young so we made them field and throw the ball in the first inning with a couple bunts,” Thorndyke said. “They dropped their heads a little bit and made some mistakes and we capitalized, and I think that was the difference in the ball game.”
After two hit by pitches started off the frame for Fairmont, Tyler Hodge laid down a bunt and reached on a throwing error by the catcher attempting to get the out at first, allowing Gage Hardin to score. Musselwhite helped his own cause in the next at bat with a two-run double to left field and pushed the score to 4-0 when he scored on an error later in the inning.
“It was just me being a senior and stepping up,” said Musselwhite, who had a game-high two hits. “I did what I had to do.”
Seth Thorndyke highlighted a four-run third inning for Fairmont with a three-RBI double to left field to clear the bases. Floyd knocked in the other run in the inning with a RBI single.
“We had hits with runners in scoring position and that made the difference,” Sandy Thorndyke said. “We’ve been getting people on base, just can’t get them in. Today we got them in.”
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.